MAYOR Angelito Gatlabayan and the local officials of Antipolo City may not know it, but the whole nation and 114 chartered cities are watching their novel project in prison reform. Antipolo became a city in April, 1998, and has a current population of 632,000.
Mayor Gatlabayan observes: "We put up the new building costing R18M for humanitarian reasons. We cannot just allow the inmates to catch various ailments, some very serious, caused by congestion inside the prison facility."
The mayor notes with compassion that inmates are also "entitled to live decent lives and some of them have yet to be proven guilty."
The new three-story prison will be inaugurated by city officials Jan. 28 at Barangay San Jose. The inmates will occupy the new building Jan. 29. The old town jail was built ages ago for a maximum of 100 inmates.
The new prison has a sun deck, big mess hall, kitchen, jail guards quarters and three-deck beds for inmates. The prison facility has a maximum room capacity for 3,000 prisoners and detainees. Only 651 inmates will transfer to their new quarters before the end of January.
The entire third floor is reserved for the main offices of the city police. Male and female inmates have separate quarters. The hardcore cases and minors have separate cells too.
Prison reform ignored
If Mayor Gatlabayan and his fellow officials of Antipolo have the vision to view prison reforms, to the best of our knowledge, this is one social and community goal generally ignored by most national, provincial, city, and town officialdom nationwide.
The national penitentiary itself, despite its ever growing population, has not added a wing of space within its walls. One improvement it can boast of has not been used for years: The chamber where a convict is given three kinds of IVs (injections) to remind him of his mortality.
Dire living condition
Most Metro Manila cities have old, dirty, and overcrowded prisons where life is either cheap or short, especially to inmates with an intricate overlay of tattoos. …